Manitoulin municipalities, First Nation and business receive substantial project funding

MANITOULIN—The Town of Gore Bay and Billings Township, along with the Wikwemikong Development Commission (WDC) and North Channel Cruise Lines have all received funding announced by the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor).

In recognition of national tourism week, which ran from May 29 to June 4, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous services and minister responsible for FedNor, announced FedNor investments totalling $8,750,385 to “protect, strengthen and grow Northern Ontario’s tourism sector.” Provided through the government of Canada’s tourism relief fund (TRF) the investments support 58 tourism projects in municipalities and Indigenous communities across the region.

The Town of Gore Bay is receiving $249,000 through the TRF to upgrade its waterfront and boardwalk to attract more tourists, and in turn, increase spending at local businesses. Specifically, the funding will be used to construct two bridges, pave the front parking lot of the Harbour Centre (an arts incubator and museum hub), landscape the shoreline and install educational signage, flooring and a chairlift to enhance accessibility to the centre’s third-floor museum. This project will create six jobs during the construction phase.

“Woo hoo!” an enthusiastic Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne said to news of the funding announcement. “For sure this is great news. We have been putting money aside for this as our part of the costs for the project. This is excellent news.”

“I would like to thank all those who were involved in putting the funding application together,” said Mayor Osborne.

Billings Township will receive a FedNor investment of $264,376. This funding will allow the township to advance phase two of its Kagawong waterfront development plan. Specifically, this targeted investment will help modernize the Austin Hunt Marina to enhance the visitor experience and increase spending at local businesses. Upgrades to the marina will include expanded dockage, shoreline stabilization with sheet piling, a walking path and improved parking. Once complete this tourism initiative is expected to attract more boaters to the community and create six local jobs.

“Perfect,” stated Billings Mayor Ian Anderson. “This is really good news. This is a project that has been in the works for a long time, and one that incrementally we have been making progress. This is wonderful news.”

The WDC will receive a non-repayable FedNor contribution of $492,184 to support phase two of the community’s Point Grondine Park development project. Specifically, the funding will be used to construct an off-grid comfort station that features solar power and various energy and water-saving technologies. The facility will be fully accessible, improve health and safety amenities at the adventure park, attract more visitors to the area, and create further opportunities to share Anishnaabek culture. This project will help maintain two seasonal positions and create 10 full-time jobs during the construction phase of the initiative.

“We greatly appreciate FedNor’s assistance to help support Indigenous tourism recovery efforts and enhance tourism offerings during these challenging times,” said Adam Kaboni, president of WDC. “This project will allow Wiikwemkoong to move forward with phase two of building a new clean and fully accessible off-grid comfort station for visitors who wish to explore Point Grondine Park and experience the rich Anishnaabek culture. The new facility will be eco-friendly, using various energy and water saving technologies, including solar power to make your camping experience comfortable and enjoyable.”

North Channel Cruise Line is receiving $100,000 in funding to help the business to modernize and complete clean energy updates to its 100-passenger tour vessel. This strategic investment will help meet the growing demand for the company’s services, create jobs and new tour products, and to improve the environmental efficiency of its operations. Specifically, the funding will be used to replace the vessel’s propulsion system, install 16 solar panels to power electrical systems, modify and improve the cabin to enhance safety, and open a second ticketing outlet on the docks in Killarney to expand cruise and ferry services to Manitoulin Island. Once complete, this project is expected to create one permanent and six seasonal full-time jobs.